Top tips from Clinic Director Dr. Damian, Osteopath on staying injury-free as you return to the gym or sports.

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This weekend sees Melburnians be able to return to the gym, CrossFit and play sports.

If this is your first time back into exercise for a while, or if you’re just a beginner, then this blog will be for you!

You need to be aware of these important tips to keep yourself injury-free.

Going into new exercise without much planning and thought is the number one reason people end up injured or not achieving their goals. There is nothing more frustrating than starting with the Best of Intentions, to get fit for summer, to rejoin our beloved sporting activities, and then to get injured or pull up so sore you can’t walk for days.

However, you can ensure you can get back in the gym or training injury-free without some consideration and keep it going throughout the whole year.

A key concept in preventing and managing injuries is understanding the balance between training load (the volume and intensity of your exercise) and your capacity to handle that load.

In a nutshell, it’s a case of working within your limits and not pushing your training beyond what your body can cope with.

Alongside training loads, there are also other factors at play such as how well you recover and underlying weaknesses or muscle imbalances.

 

Training Loads:

I often see patients who’ve never worked out before and start a routine that overwhelms their bodies. It’s a common scenario, and almost everyone knows how it feels to be in that situation. You push yourself too far or maybe start a routine that doesn’t fit your fitness level. Inevitably, you end up sore and unable to walk the next day!

Just remember: Your body can adapt to new training loads as long as you ease into the process. When you first begin your workout routine, start by taking it easy and keeping track of any soreness or discomfort. Use these building blocks to build up to more challenging workouts and give yourself time to adapt. Easing into a routine like this will help prevent injury or undue muscle soreness.

We don’t need to wait until the gyms reopen or our first class. Let’s start to do something at home with some bodyweight exercises to get the body ready. Even doing some squats, push-ups, lunges with your body weight will prepare your body to do something a bit more rigorous and lessen the likelihood of overdoing it in the gym. We often get more carried away in a group environment, especially if you are a little bit competitive like me.

Often we don’t feel it until the next day or the day after, so it’s essential to be mindful of exercising at a moderate level if we haven’t exercised for a while. A sound system is the RPE or “rating of perceived effort” with 0 being sitting on the couch and 10 being working out as hard as you can. You should be aiming for somewhere around 5 to 6.

 

Recovery:

We want to achieve a balance between stress, recovery and maximising fitness while reducing fatigue. If you’re going to train like an athlete, then you need to recover like one too! Athletes put as much focus on rest and recovery as they do on their training.

Many patients put a great deal of thought into maximising their training but relatively few plan their recovery in the same detail. Training is often planned in the short term, medium-term and longer-term. Recovery can and should be approached in a very similar way. Some food for thought for the short and mid-term recovery periods:

 

Short term recovery:

Consider recovery strategies for each session such as cooldowns, pre, and post-training fuelling and adapting sleep. Plan recovery within the weekly training schedule, including where to place recovery days to manage fatigue and what to do within those days i.e. less intensity, less duration, lighter weights, etc. Sports or remedial massage is a great way to help your muscles recover and keep them in tip-top shape.

Medium-term recovery:

Plan training and recovery over a 3 to 4 week period and beyond to ensure that training increases gradually and recovery is modified to suit this change. Therefore, if you train more, recover more! This might include a planned ‘recovery week’ every fourth week where the training load is reduced.

 

Underlying Injuries/imbalances:

The biggest reason fitness goals are abandoned is because of injury. While some are unavoidable, others can be prevented. An injury can be debilitating, so it’s important to take the time to rest when needed. This will allow you to return to your workouts stronger than ever before.

The best way to avoid injury is by working your body appropriately and progressively through the levels of fitness.

One of the main reasons behind injuries is underlying muscle weakness.

Muscles are stronger when they are balanced, and this is extremely important for the overall movement. When our muscles are imbalanced, our joints are exposed to uneven pressure, leading to nagging aches or injuries that are all too common. Especially if we have not been as active over the past few months, some muscles will be much stiffer, others much weaker.

This can be due to something as simple as sitting more than usual. We commonly see this in the hip flexors, the muscles at the front of the thigh, and the lower back and upper back and chest muscles.

Suppose you feel that your body is not as aligned. In that case, your posture is not ideal, or that you’re feeling much stiffer and sorer than what you would usually do, then I highly recommend doing some mobility work in the lead up to your more vigorous exercise. So you can either do this in the week’s leading up to when you return to the gym or sports, which would be ideal or make sure that you spend some time working on your mobility and stretching before the session.

You can prevent these types of issues with muscle balancing exercises. These exercises will work your muscles evenly to strengthen your body and keep you free from injury.

If your body is not feeling right or symmetrical or comfortable – get it checked. There is likely a small muscle imbalance that can be easily sorted before it becomes something major. Exercise - Physiology

Here at Premier, we use the same muscle testing technology that Elite athletes and professional sporting clubs use – the AXIT Performance System.
This system allows us to measure every part and movement of the human body that highlights any asymmetric weakness (one side is weaker than the other).

If you think you need some help from a physio, osteo, sports massage or podiatrist, contact us today!

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